No matter how old you are, do you find yourself listening to 70s or 80s classics because music was somehow “better” then? Or do you feel there’s little in modern music to inspire any more? It’s not true. Relatively speaking, there’s less good music around now, but it’s still there. And this blog intends to find it for you. This is not an ‘oldies’ blog. Its a blog to improve the quality of contemporary music.
‘Can You Whistle It’ has a mission. It seems that at least in the UK (and notably less so in the US), ambitious melody has become unfashionable. In the face of so much droning, mediocre songwriting, the CYWI mission is to promote and encourage good composition and authorship in popular and contemporary music. We want strong and engaging melody lines, regardless of genre.
We believe you do too. So CYWI goes looking for those needles of well-written music in that haystack of mediocrity so foisted on us in recent years. We want to make it easier for you to find sound, tuneful music, because that’s what you will be offered on these pages.
In the demise of good melody, Glastonbury’s love of guitar bands is as much to blame as BBC Introducing’s apparent ageism is as much to blame as the X-Factor’s pursuit of the lowest common denominator is as much to blame as the plethora of music blogs looking only for ‘cutting-edge’ (strewth, how I loathe that lazy phrase) and ‘new’ (i.e. immature) music.
It seems writers are increasingly using shortcuts to create songs. One of these shortcuts is the so-called ‘four-chord’ song, which has become a compositional joke. Another is starting with a riff and just making a song up around it – this immediately confines the melody and limits its story. Yet another is repetitive structure, where the chorus sounds like the verse and the absence of a middle eight or coda is replaced with an instrumental break in the same format as the chorus and the verse. Yawn. (And don’t get us started on EDM. Carry on chaps, but let’s just leave the ‘M’ off, shall we?).
As a result of this demise of creativity, we believe that the musical quality of released albums has fallen in recent years. We’ll go so far as to offer that if you can point out an album released in the last five years that is compositionally better than ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ (Adele notwithstanding), then we’ll stand you a pint and a curry. That’s because I have failed to find it in years of looking and engaging Facebook friends in the hunt, so you may just have massively improved this writer’s music collection.
It is not as though the record labels don’t need this too. Whenever a really good song appears, people take it to their hearts in millions, and you labels gain a lasting classic that will fill your coffers for decades; as opposed to the current market, where if that new band’s album doesn’t chart, they’re back stacking shelves in Tesco by Christmas. We’ll encourage the biz to encourage and nurture the artists who give us their best.
We are especially interested in the private musicians – the innovative bedroom composers and garage performers who are in effect the new ‘studio bands’; and who cannot get a recording contract and don’t get reported by the traditional music press, because they don’t gig. We suspect the next ‘Night at the Opera’ or ‘Abbey Road’ is just as likely to come from there because they don’t have to pay for studio time. We want to give those creatives an audience. And we’re happy with instrumentals, by the way.
So Can You Whistle It is going to praise and support good solid writing – and discourage poor, repetitive, unimaginative, sod-it-that’ll-do composition.
We’ll review albums. We’ll highlight technologies and methods for making music, to try and educate new musicians that there is more to music than loops. We’ll look at technology for listening to music so that the experience is more engaging than earbuds in a noisy street. We’ll talk about the industry. And we won’t limit ourselves to the mainstream – artistic bedroom composers are as welcome as big-label promoters to send us your output.
What we won’t do, like so many other blogs, is chain ourselves to ‘new’ music. If this month’s album releases are a pile of formulaic, market-sectored, me-too, half-attempts, as they so often seem to be, don’t worry, because we’ve got decades of superior genius to reappraise – and to compare and contrast with what’s around now.
Join the mission.